37 thaikarl i can understand what people are saying this must be USA


landed back in seattle, washington, UNITED STATES (the sign in the airport didn't say "of america")
i can understand ambient conversations.  i can read the signs.  the money is all colourless.    the food un-appealing.  people are inconsistent shapes and featured.  jeez.

i didn't get searched at customs this time like i did last year.  so i breezed thru all that in less than an hour.  no one at the airport that i knew, so i took the metro bus.  with 25kg of  luggage.  always come back heavy with acquisitions.  it was 8pm and the sun was just setting.  in the tropics its completely dark by 8pm.  and COLD!

at my apartment, it was a joy to see my cats - they were mildly interested in my return, had to sniff all the strange smells from me and my bags.  they are so BIG, these cats.  asian cats are generally small and thin.  my room-mate was a little nervous to see how i would react to everything being moved, reconfigured, restacked and re-piles.  i'm okay with it.  it's a mess, all my electronics are unplugged and confused, stuff is not exactly where it used to be.  but i expected all that.  i have to re-do all this stuff anyway to adjust to living in a much much smaller space.

i'm in that weird "don't quite know what to do with myself" zone.  my body thinks its the middle of the  day, but it's now 4:06am.  birds are chirping, which means the daylight will arrive soon.  the culture shock of returning to this place is far far worse than going overseas.  but i'll get used to it. mostly.  enough to get along.  next time i buy a ticket for asia it will be a one-way ticket.  (even if i know i'm coming back, extending and re booking is more expensive than just buying a one way return ticket)  but maybe, i won't need that return ticket. not for a long time.

i called Tok, she i getting busy as always - working in jamlongs shop, setting up to cut and style hair at her own house, and some people have expressed interest to her of learning english.  "hey, that's supposed to be MY job i said to her".  i miss her and the family, and all the people in the neighborhood.  but i must keep a "cool heart" as they thais call it.  so i will.

the next adventure begins...



or am i back to being karl?  oh  yes, i guess so. thus:


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36 Thaikarl time to go back in time


it's 6:25pm monday may  29th here in taiwan.  it is 15 hours earllier in seattle.  so when i catch the plane tonight at 11pm, after some 11 hours in the air i will arrive in seattle at 7:10pm, this same day.  going back in time.  appropriate. returning to my past, from this far eastern present.

what a long strange trip it's been.

i haven't felt like writing since i've been here in taiwan.  i will have to backfill the travelogue from seattle.  i have enjoyed my visit to nationalist china.  seen and done some interesting things. doug and jasmine have been very friendly and helpful to me.  and i miss tok, the family, and thailand very much.


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35 Thaikarl we're not in ..... anymore dorothy


taiwan is a bit of a change from thailand.  language and script completely different of course, and many small differences in life, appearance and custom.  i've been pretty much doing nothing for the last couple of days, walking around the neighborhood some and hanging with my friend doug.  nice to just chill after the last couple of months of busyness in the village.

but today i am determined to find the subway entrance and go into  the city.  Doug and Jasmine live in an outlying area of the megalopolis of Taipei.  so all i'm seeing is the local business and residential life.  the Taipei city is something else.

doug has a DSL connection here at his apartment,, so i'm online much more.  you can look for me on yahoo instant messenger as indiakarl.  or  not.


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34 Thaikarl greetings from taiwan!


many baht later, i finally made the plane from bangkok to Taiwan. i'm
visiting with Doug, whom i met at the Celta course and his wife. i'm
typing this on an iBook at dougs english school. (so nice to see a
mac again) quite an impressive setup they have here, two nice rooms
with new desks and chairs, whiteboards... a real school. it's called
DJ's English School for Doug and Jasmine (his wife)

it's a little different here. like, everything is in chinese
characters, and the language sounds very unfamiliar, soft and breathy.
the city of thaipei is some ways away, we are out in the out lands of
the city proper. i can take the MRT subway into the city. doug and
jasmine are busy with school.

raining. grey. like the scenes from blade runner...

will be nice to soften the let down from thailand. i have been with
tok 24/7 for 4 months... feels strange to be on my own now. but she
is not that far away.


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33 Thaikarl Missed my plane! so i'm going to china.


for the first time in all my flying, i missed my plane yesterday.  drats.  simple as setting alarm for 'time to be at airport' not for 'time to get up to get ready and goto airport'.  and of course, it being sunday, the Delta airline office was closed, and you can't get china air on the phone.  still, we packed up and took a taxi to the airport.  i went to the china airlines counter and the ladie said there was a 1:30pm flight, no problem.  okay good.  went through all the dreary goodbyes at the security gate etc.  when i got back to the counter and they started punching things in the terminal, things went wrong.  seems that china airlines only has one "codeshare" flight per day. and since i have a paper ticket, i had to goto the delta office to change it.  but they don't open until 9:00 am monday, and the flight for the day leaves at 8:25am.  sweet.  all of this took much discussion, terminal keying, calls to supervisors etc.  fortunately Tok was still waiting at the passenger fence.  we took taxi back to the hotel.  when the taxi stopped, i woke from my nap and opened the door... and clipped a car that was zooming past.  black-car stops, there is a lot of discussions in thai, broken mirror glass on the ground and i have little idea what's going on.  we got the new room (wayyyyyyyyy in the back of the lodge) and when we came back out, the taxi and black-car are still there. black-car man calling insurance company.  we ate lunch at the road stall.  eventually some guys came out on a motorbike, took pictures and made out paper work and told me that i had to split the cost with the insurance company.  2000 baht (little over 52.00). i gave the taxi driver 200 baht, because it wasn't his fault and it had taken up much of his time and fares to deal with all this.  he was quite surprized and grateful for that.

so this morning, monday, tok and i take the skytrain and walk to the delta office - up on the 27 floor of an office building and rebook the ticket.  oh, another 75.00 USD to change the ticket. the original flight is booked now.  so once again, my arrival in seattle is set back.  now i return to Seattle on the 29th of may, china airlines, flight 22 arrives 7:10pm.  my thai visa expires tomorrow, the 23rd, so i have a little problem there.  i don't need to spend MORE money to make a visa run to cambodia, so i'm going to leave BKK tomorrow morning and fly to taiwan.  i have a friend from the english course who lives there, and i will visit with them for 5 days, waiting for the flight to Seattle.  that will be interesting.  doug and his wife are starting an english school in Taipei, so i am looking forward to seeing how it all works.  and to hang out in Taiwan for a bit.  more foreign money to add to my collection of places to come back to.  but, the cash is gone.  i had to take back the money i gave Tok to live on to pay for scratched car, more hotel and food etc, i'm going to be eating rice and walking alot in Taiwan.  the Dutch have a saying: "laugh and pay".  i'm laughing my ass off.


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32 thaikarl Amazing Thailand and the next stop


Departing bangok tomorrow.  There is a pall hanging over Tok and I, knowing that it will be some time before we are together again.  We've shopped for last minute things… mostly things for Tok.  She purchased the rudiments- dryer, curler, scissors etc so she can cut hair at home to earn a little money.  I gave her everything I had left in Baht, hope it will tide her over until I can generate some cash to send to her from seattle.

What follows are a collection of Amazing Thailand bits that I noted and may or may not have included in prior messages.  Some are a bit thin in explanation, but I have other things to do tonight…

Amazing Thailand
The time bell ringer
Bangs the gong 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 for 10 pm
Tok and I were eating Phad Thai one evening in Lom Sak.  I heard a clanging sound, someone rhythmically hitting a piece of metal.  Tok says "It's Ten PM" "How do you know that?" I ask her.  "The time man." She says.  I notice a man leaving on motorbike across the street.  The sound I heard was the man banging on a piece of metal hanging from the road sign.  "Clang-Clang…Clang-Clang!" Ten times for 10 o'clock.  I am amazed.  They actually have a time keeper who goes around ringing a gong to tell the time.  I ask Tok if there actually is a man whose job it is is to ride around town and gong the time.  Of course there is.
Roti Boy 4/19/2006 9:24 AM
Everyday in Siam Square there was a long long queue at the Roti Boy shop.  Roti's are buns that have a butter and coffee cream dressing applied to the dough before baking.  They originated in Singapore decades ago.  They started as a mix of bun and cookie, then became a soft cream cookie melted on top of the bun.  From early in the morning until late afternoon, there would be a line of people around the corner and down the alley waiting to get their Rotiboys.  Reminds me of the similar craze when Krispy Kreme doughnuts opened a store in Issaquah Washington.  Another outlet in Siam is Papa Roti.  Papa Roti's buns aren't quite so buttery and have a slightly crispy top.  Tok waited and hour in line to buy some Rotiboys for us.  They are very tasty, but hardly phenomenal.  They go through thousands of these things every day.  (we have since see Rotimom, RotiBuns and somewhere is Rotigirl)
Anti Thaksin ring tones 3/9/2006
The prime minister of Thailand is having a difficult
 time right now.  Something about a business deal where he sold his shares in a communication company, and made millions of Baht – tax free.  A little article in The Nation reported on that political ringtones can be awkward in some situations.  People have downloaded anti-Thaksin ringtones for mobile phones.  A reporters phone started ringing "Thaksin ok pai" ("Thaksin get out" I'm guessing) during a press conference with the agricultural minister – who is a good buddy of the prime minister.  Even funnier, the ringtone was audible when the TV news reports of the press conference were broadcast later that day.
Croaking Lizards 3/14/2006 9:59 PM
Every night I have heard a loud croaking sound.  Starts with a series of short chirps then a loud Wah!-Waah!, several times.  And I do mean these things are loud – about like the cawing of a crow loud.  I asked Tok several times what was making that sound.  She said it was like a gecko, but bigger.  I wasn't sure what that meant – things get lost in translation very easily.  I've heard it several times from the north wall, near the cabinets that make up the wall of Mama's bedroom.  Tonight I got my flashlight and peered over the top of the cabinet, and there was a large head sticking up! As big as a tablespoon big! Big yellow eyes, pale green skin with soft pink dots.  It ducked down the wall when I shown the light on it.  I went and got a mirror and went into Mama's bedroom and put the mirror against the wall so that I could see down the space between the wall and the cabinet.  Wow, it's a lizard of some sort- a BIG one.  Has to be at least 9 inches long.  I didn't think a little gecko sized creature could be making so much sound, now I know what it is.  I learned that these guys are called a "Tokay".  The name approximates the sound they make.  So many strange and interesting creatures about.  I like to kid Tok, every time I discover another one.  "Are we going to eat them?" She always laughs at me.  I learned that the croaking sound is a territorial call.  Mama got fed up with the animal waking her up and tried to fish him from out behind the cabinet one day.  She kept shoving the palm broom behind the cabinet.  The Tokay finally came out and stopped by the window.  I ran to get my video camera, shot 3 seconds of video and it ran down behind the cabinet again.  A few days later it was gone.  I was afraid mama had killed it, but it reappeared a couple of weeks later.  Loud as ever…

Houses on stilts
Many Thai houses outside of the towns and cities are built up on stilts.  Some are several feet above ground, most are above head height, some are 15 feet up in the air.  I've wondered about the reason many times.  I asked Tok about it and she gave the reason for the tradition.  In former times there were wild elephants and tigers in Thailand, having your house up in the air protected you from them.  Well, there are no tigers or elephants now, so why do they continue to build houses this way? I've come to realize a few things about this construction that makes a lot of sense, for here and other places in the world where they build stilted houses.

When you house is 10 feet up in the air, it is more difficult for enemies or bad guys to gain entry.  The house is up where the breezes are.  The space beneath the house is shaded, and open to any breeze, thus is cooler.  The space is also protected from the rain.  It gives a place to cook, work, store things and hang out.  Being up on stilts also prevents most of the critters like rats, mice, frogs, snakes and numerous bugs from coming into the house.  Most of the houses are supported by concrete columns.  I've seen the molds they use for the columns behind the hardware store.  The concrete columns have steps formed on the upper end, to support wooden floor beams.  The beams are bolted thru holes cast into the tops of the columns.  The base of the columns has a footing molded into them.  The columns are set about two feet into the ground.  I don't know if they set them into a concreted hole or not.  Having stilts made of concrete keeps the termites from eating them, and making their way up into your house.

I like the stilted houses.  I like the open spaces beneath them and the way people work and live under the house.  The interior of any house gets quite warm in the sun.  There is generally no insulation beneath the roof or in the walls, so the sun heats the roof and walls, which re-radiates into the rooms inside.

Burning trash
Out in the rural areas, most of the household trash is burned.  Everything.  A lot of plastic bags, food containers and other things that make a nasty pollutant smoke.  They don't have garbage collection.  There just isn't the infrastructure to support it.  And burning is easy.  That means that just in Thailand, there are thousands of these fires every day.  Add that to the large portion of the rest of the world who do the same thing, and I imagine we have a lot of junk going into the air.   Sure, north Americans, and the European union countries have stopped or curtailed burning garbage, but that is a small portion of the world population.

Thai newspaper coverage
I have noticed something about news coverage in Thailand, at least in the English language newspapers, and what I can glean from the TV news.  They don't put a lot of stories of death, destruction and "things to fear" in the paper.  There are two national English language papers – the "Bangkok Post" and "The Nation".  They print stories that are mostly concerned with politics, social issues, financial dealings, world news and human interest.  Very muted are the shootings, road accident spectacles, lurid coverage of murders, rapes, robbery, fires, child molesters, and other horrors that the north American news and papers love to dwell on.  They do report these things, but they are limited to a few column inches, not pages and pages of such events.

The Thai language newspapers I can't tell you about.  There seems to be a number of them that are a bit tabloid in nature.  There is always a photo of people that have been murdered, often in the drug world.  They show the bodies splayed the way they were found, like "true crime" photos.  Usually they will pixilated the faces, or immodest portions displayed.

Doug and Matt go to concert
Doug and matt were telling about going to the Bangkok100 concert last night.  They were carrying beers in their hands when they went to go in, but the guard at the gate told them they couldn't carry beer in.  They pointed at some people passing beer thru the fence a few feet away.  The guard said that was okay.  So mat went into the gates and around to the fence.  Doug handed the beer to him, just a few feet away from the guard, who nodded them on.  Then Doug went into the gate, met mat, got their beers and went in too the concert.

Afterwards, there was a truck of roadies from the show going by picking up people who where trying to get away from the concert area.  They jumped on the truck with some 30 other people.  At one point the truck almost couldn't make it up the hill.  They didn't know where the truck was going, but it was away from the show, in the general direction they were headed.

White men can't squat
Business Terms form BKKpost
Professor W Chan Kim and Professor Renee Mauborgne brainchilds;
Red Ocean Strategy or Bloody Ocean Strategy: Competing within the existing industry and weaning customers away from competitors
Blue Ocean Strategy: Creating new demand in the marketplace.  The competition is irrelevant.  Focusing on a target market (say B class and higher) and concentrating on innovative products with good design.
"Sunrise Market"Motorbike trailers
People use motorbikes for many forms of transporting; people, goods and products.  One of the interesting uses is to haul a little trailer.  These trailers are two wheeled, made of metal or wood and have an extended push bar across the front.  People place the load on the trailers so that the push bar is lightly loaded, place the push bar over the seat of the motorbike, and sit on it to hold it in place when moving.  This method, of course, begs the question, "what happens when you hit a bump hard and your butt comes off the seat?".  The answer of course is that the trailer will be "un-hitched" and go flailing across the road.  But this seems to rarely happen, as many people use the 'seat of the pants' hitch method, and you would think that they would stop doing that and make something else if un-hitching was a common occurrence.  Tok and I hauled a bag of cement, 6 boxes of ceramic tiles, a new toilet and sundry hardware in a cart like this.  I had to keep the speed down of course.  Today we hauled two big bags of fine sand, and two more bags of concrete.  Nearly flattened the tires on the cart.  I had to be the trailer hitch; it was too heavy for Tok to control. 
Relaxed property boundaries- open doors
Bugs and critters
You can't go with out shorts and shirt
The miserable mosquitoes
Ants, beetles, flying ants, roaches, red ants, bees
Frogs, skinks, tokays, lizards, toads, mice, rats
Bug blooms
The big four wingers when it rains
The ants go crazy
Bumble beetles
And the little ants that carry away the bodies
Thais don't wear baseball caps
When they do, they are on straight
Many Cambodians do – motodup drivers uniform
Fuel costs
BKK post the some farmers are going back to using buffaloes.  The fuel for the motorized buffaloes is getting too expensive.
Half of the Thai Fishing fleet grounded due to fuel costs.

Oil Wars.  If you think the war in Iraq was about Oil, and even if you don't… just wait.
Short doorways and eye-poking umbrellas
Thai school children wear uniforms
What will happen to the frogs if they widen the road?
Tok told me they posted notices that they are going to widen the two lane road that runs by her house to four lanes.  All of the property that is on the road has a 23 meter set-back (about 75 feet) that is owned by the government.  They will use the space to enlarge the road.  The road is posted as Road 21, which means it is a major roadway.  Although it will be good for travel and commerce, there will be some sad consequences of this progress.  Along the roadway now, especially in the village areas are some magnificent trees, which will of course be cut down.  A lot of shade will be lost in front of peoples properties.  Between Toks house and the road is a pond.  Many properties have drainage pipes to carry away the water, Toks doesn't.  so the water accumulates between the raised driveways of hers and her neighbors property.  Many frogs and other creature are living in this pond.  That will also be gone.  Not to mention moving the noise of traffic that much closer to the house.  Oh well.  Progress.
Not talking or listening to people talk sure gives you time to think.

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31 Thaikarl short timing grey skys today


i just notice that there are two issues numbered "29"  so is this one 30, or 31?  i'll make it 31 and sort it out in the later life.

short time.  so many things left undone.  guess i'll just have to come back.  what do you want from thailand?
I want the life i have now. you?


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29 Thaikarl my purpose in thailand and...


I have finally realized what my purpose for being in Thailand is…

It's to nourish the mosquito population.  The little bugs really like me.  There must be something quite flavorful about my farang blood that they will fly in from all directions to sample.  And I'm positive that after a nice meal, they wiz off and tell all their friends where the best dinner is.  The mosquitoes here are minute.  You think they were simple little gnats, nothing to fuss about.  Not so.  Evolution figured out the "small is better" advantage when it came to these guys.  They are not as easily spotted as they home in for a dose of my blood.  And being so small, when they land on your skin, you can't feel it.  I have been bitten hundreds of times, and I have yet to actually see a mosquito on my skin.  I've had constellations of bites on my back.  Going shirtless is a nice idea in the luxurious temperature here, but it means they are going to get you.  I slather on the repellent, which seems to dismay them a bit.  But they are quite expert at finding the little patch of skin I missed.  They especially like your ankles and calves.  I won't leave home with out my DEET.  If there is any chance of being out after nightfall I have one of the little bottles in my kit, or pay for it later.  And these creeps are active 24/7.  They tend to stay out of the hot sun, but then you must be out in the sun to enjoy the relief.  One small consolation: these mosquitoes are fairly solitary.  I have suffered through the *swarms* of mosquitoes in Michigan and Ohio.  Thai 'skeetos are not like that.  Thank whatever god they live by.


I finished the brickwork on the wall we knocked out, and helped move the junk from the back porch to the shed and the burn pile.  Tok is allergic to lots of dust.  She broke out in hives the night before last when we swept up much of the concrete and wall dust and debris in the front entry.  The hives are still dissipating.  So there is frequent sweeping and moping to do to keep the dust level down.  I tried to keep a fan blowing out the window, to make some airflow *out* of the house, but they see the fan sitting there burning up electricity, with no person sitting in front of it, and someone turns it off.  I turn it on.  Next time I come back in the house, it's off again.  Gave that one up.  Prior programming "unplug and turn off what is not being used this very minute" over-rides the temporary program "air flow to take dust out the widow using the fan".  So I gave up on that concept.  But we're almost there with the major projects and clean-up.

I hope we can have a day to borrow Jamlongs motorbike and goto the mountains before departure to Bangkok.  We'll see.


BTW:  DEET is the active ingredient in mosquito repellant.





Thai bit:  After having a baby, the new mother lays continuously next to a fire for up to seven days, drinking herbal tea and eating only rice, salt and fish.

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29 thaikarl end of time acceleration


the end of my time here (for now) is approaching, and i am seriously feeling the compression of time.  i am trying to keep a neutral feeling about leaving - they call it "not having a hot heart" in thailand. (interestingly, a "cold heart" is a calm, relaxed person, unlike our meaning.)
working to finish up the projects, and take in everything.  what ever gets left un-done will mean i just have to come back.  like when i visit another country, i don't convert all my currency back to dollars.  that means i'll have to come back to the county to spend the money.  so i have currency from canada, europe, india, thailand, cambodia, vietnam, and now Laos.  lots of places to get back to.

but thailand is home.
back to work....

On wards!

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28 Thaikarl wow the whelm. it is bangkok


after the "quiet life" in the country, bangkok is even for me, a bit overwhelming. but i like it.  have noticed the total assault of people, traffic, commerce and cool things to see and do does make the brain a little frazzled. 

i had a few 'gotta do's' while we are here, so i ran around yesterday and took care of them.  got my airline tickets and all that.  today was some sight seeing.  mama wanted to got wat prekow (sp?)  which we had been to already, so i passed on the 200 baht farlang entrance fee and went wandering.  turns out that is is a big buddist holiday, and they had all these tents out on the big field with exhibits, and displays.  very cool.  the first tent had a collection of budda images.  tens of them.  many people looking, praying, taking pictures.  in another tent they had they very modern exibit on the history of buddism.  mulit-media projections, sculptures, 3D LCD dispays, and even a holovision of the baby budday coming at you, out of the thin air.  it was very well done, and they did have english notes under things.  after the family got done at the temple they came over and we went through everything again.

mama was tired, so we took them to the hotel, and tok and i went to jatachuck market, and back to mbk.  everybody is pooped out.  i'm kinda tired also, but city-jazzed up.  taking the bus back to the north tomorrow.


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27 ThaiKarl bangkok holiday, return to USA


brought the family to bangkok for the weekend for the little holiday i
promised them. Teri is excited to go "every place!" we went to MBK
last night. Mama had never been on an escalator, and we had a good
laugh as she stumbled on and off. by the third floor, she would just
stand at the step and keep sticking her foot out, missing the next
rising step. and teri had never been on an elevator, so when we took
the lift down from the 7th floor to the ground, she grabbed her mother
and hung on. talk about taking the country folks to the city! and
all the stairs we have to climb and decend using the fly-overs to
cross the streets is a killer for mama. but at (roughly) 74 she's a
sport about it.

i'm trying to find a dentist that takes visa cards. i have to have
some work done, but my cashmachine is about empty. which also means i
have to return to the USA. i got my revised ticket today at Delta
(they don't have e-tickets!!!!) i return to seattle may 24th.

i came back to ECC to get my course certificute, and i'm taking
adavantae of the (free) computers in the teachers room.

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